It dawned upon the naturalist staff that we had beaten the sun to rise as we arrived at the silhouette of Puerto Cook’s peaks. Equipped with fresh coffee and our Zodiacs mounted with lights, we braved the wind and rain to reach the looming remains of Staten Island’s prison and cemetery left from the early twentieth century. A blue light washed over the early hikers’ path, traversing across Staten Island – a whopping half mile, each way. After drying off and a quick repositioning, we reached our next outing at the recreation of author Jules Verne’s iconic Lighthouse at the End of the World. Once the hikers had set out from the landing towards the lighthouse, the undersea team went for a dive in the thriving kelp forest nearby.
The weather took a turn as the afternoon progressed, so we opted to cruise around Isla Observatorio from the comfort and protection of our lovely vessel, National Geographic Orion. Eventually, however, we found more opportunities for adventure in the haven of Hopner Bay. We were able to explore the picturesque bay via Zodiac, watching kelp geese along the shores, rock shags flying over the glassy black water, and marveling at the vertical waterfalls, seemingly crying off of the sheer cliffs around us. At the water’s surface, the reflection of the mountains broke way to reveal a minke whale! Nearly simultaneously, and quite miraculously, our beloved naturalist Eduardo Shaw spotted an Andean condor perched high up in the craggy cliff face above. We couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking vistas and fluttering wildlife, yet in the end we had to bid adieu to Staten Island and continue on our journey west towards Cape Horn.